Israeli FM Raises Prospect of Compromise on Disputed Jerusalem Holy Site
Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami raised the possibility Sunday of a compromise with the Palestinians over the al-Aqsa mosque complex in occupied east Jerusalem, a hotly contested site holy to both Muslims and Jews.
"We must find a solution concerning Temple Mount (the al-Aqsa compound) and make the current situation and the effective control which exists on the ground definitive," Ben Ami told Israeli army radio.
He was referring to the fact that the Palestinian Islamic religious trust, the Waqf, has daily responsibility for the site, which is the third holiest site in the Muslim world and the holiest in Judaism.
"Officially we have sovereignty on the Temple Mount but in fact we are its hostage as every Friday Muslims come to prayer there, but not Jews," Ben Ami said.
Jewish religious law bars Jews from visiting the site for fear that they will desecrate their holiest site.
"We must find a solution, which expresses the special link between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall, which must of course remain under Israeli sovereignty," he added.
The site lies inside the walled Old City of east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in war in 1967 and annexed as part of its capital, a move not recognized by the international community.
The radio's commentator said Israel is ready to accept that a Palestinian state has total control over the mosque compound but not total sovereignty.
Disputes over the fate of Jerusalem and its holy sites led to the collapse of the US-sponsored Camp David peace summit in July.
Ben Ami met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Thursday night in a bid to pave the way for a resumption of negotiations after more than 11 weeks of deadly violence -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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